REVIEW | A Plague Tale: Requiem

REVIEW | A Plague Tale: Requiem

LifeisXbox’s A Plague Tale: Requiem review | When the sequel to A Plague Tale was announced, that scream of excitement you heard from the distance was probably me. I was very likely one of the loudest fans of the original game, praising its glorious visuals, its photomode that brought me back to the world of videogame photography and above all: a touching story of two siblings facing impossible odds.

It’s with that in mind that I quickly calmed my internal screaming and let the thought sink in that this probably doesn’t bode well for Amicia & Hugo De Rune as they barely survived their last adventure. Let’s hope there is a happy ending at the end of this one, shall we?

The fact that it released day one on Xbox Game Pass was also great news and means that even more people will have given this a shot. While the first game obviously performed well enough to warrant a sequel, I still think it should have been more popular still and definitely should have earned more awards than it did. Asobo is an amazing studio that only seems to release masterpieces and I can’t wait to see what they start working on next!

Let’s burrow into the review, shall we? And keep some light handy, before the rats arrive!

Most Memorable Moment

I really can’t share the best moment from the game without spoiling anything, but man, that ending probably has one of the best set-piece moments from any game ever. I was howling at my screen with how amazing the effects were! Instead, you’ll have to make do with one of the other awesome chase sequences where the rats are on your tail (hah!) and leave a ravage behind.

โ„น๏ธ Reviewed on Xbox Series X | Physical Review copy provided by PLAION Benelux, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.

What we Liked!

  • Incredible Visuals | A Plague Tale: Requiem is probably one of the best-looking games ever. The environments are stunning and invite you to open up the photomode at every occasion, the characters are incredibly detailed down to the individual textures on their clothes looking almost lifelike and the lighting seals the deal, from daytime scenes to dark moments where only a burning torch lights your way.
  • The soundtrack | The audio is especially noteworthy and gave me chills more than once, especially the Gregorian chants or moments where a full-on choir kicked in made my hair stand on end in a good kind of way.
  • Photomode | Both A Plague Tale games were incredible opportunities for digital photographers to try and snap the perfect picture. The games offer a lot of tools and pretty good camera freedom to set up scenarios that create truly mind-blowing images. I only wish games would make tilting the camera easier to take portrait-mode pictures that don’t require us to tilt our heads like a curious puppy. Asobo, if you’re reading this, please make that a feature in future games or when you apply a patch to the Plague Tale games ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • The rats are back | Just like in the original game, the team at Asobo managed to make the rats behave almost like a liquid, responding to light and flowing through hallways as if a tsunami made its way towards you. The scenes at the very end where they come at you in waves like a heartbeat had me gasping for air with how well it was executed. This is truly some incredible tech showing thousands of rats on-screen like this.
  • Applause-worthy voice performance | While the situations the characters sometimes find them in border on the ridiculous, the voice actors do an amazing job at trying to sell it. They don’t always succeed, but that’s mostly due to the script relying too much on the player’s suspension of disbelief. Hugo, the little brother who can summon rats, doesn’t always manage to bring across his rage the way the situation would require. You can almost feel the casting director asking the little boy to scream in rage and the poor lad giving it his best shot, but not quite getting a fit of credible anger across. But Amicia steals the show and important side characters like Arnaud & Sophia managed to win me over quite easily.

Mixed Feelings

  • Brutal Combat | A Plague Tale: Requiem will often put you in an arena where you have to fight dozens of enemies and it never really felt fitting to me. I just can’t bring myself to see Amicia as the on-woman-army the game wants her to be and downing well-armoured soldier after soldier makes the rare times where she is supposed to be the weak and fragile lose all impact. Make up your mind: Victim or heroine. But don’t keep switching it around. What’s more, is that the basic combat isn’t all that fun and I preferred the moments where taking out enemies happened in a sneaky and almost puzzle-like way.
  • A Puzzling Fit | Using chemistry to solve puzzles was pretty novel in the first game and many of the formulas make a return. With her trusty slingshot, Amicia can light a brazier on fire to scare away the rats or she can extinguish a flame to lure them to an unsuspecting victim. While the rats gnaw at his carcass, you can sneak towards the door. I like this, really I do, but too often it felt like there was only one solution. One tiny interactable item or surface in the distance that I needed to spot, and without much light to go around, I skimmed over it multiple times and needed a guide to tell me what to do. I don’t like to feel dumb, but it happened at least twice here.
  • The length | I spent 17 hours to beat the game, but admittedly, maybe 2 hours were spent in the photomode. And I think that’s perhaps a bit too long. Just like in The Last Of Us 2, there were many moments where I could feel the story almost coming to an end but then disaster strikes once more and there are a few more chapters to gnaw through. It just feels like it could have shaved a third of the total runtime and still manage to tell the exact same story.

What we Disliked

  • Bugs | While rare, there were a few bugs that I encountered in my playthrough, like one particular moment where I had to pull a cart into place and Amicia ended stuck in the ceiling. I had to restart the last checkpoint and redo a pretty significant part of the game.
  • Moving carts around | Speaking of which, I don’t know who decided this would be a fun game mechanic, but they haven’t managed to fix the controls on this since the first title. Very often in the game, you’ll need to push or pull a large cart into place, so you can reach a higher platform (quite frequently you can even spot a way for the characters to easily climb there that wouldn’t require the cart) but as soon as you grab hold the controls become frustrating.
  • Checkpoints | A Plague Tale: Requiem should have been slightly more generous with its checkpoint system. There are a few open-area sneaking encounters that take a long time to get through and it can be infuriating to be spotted by an enemy just before reaching a door, simply because you didn’t see them.
  • Situational writing could use a lot of work | I hated how often the motivation in the early game came down to “get this item or get this person” and how it threw us into a whole lot of trouble that could have been avoided. Or what about a city that is in the middle of celebrating, while just a few meters away, bodies were piling up and soldiers were killing the diseased? In the latter half of the game, we see Amicia getting knocked out maybe 6 times in the span of 3 hours and the shtick of her losing consciousness and opening her eyes to find herself in a different location. It felt like lazy writing, and I rolled my eyes at the screen at every instance.

How long to beat the story | ~15 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | ~30 hours

Do you prefer to see the game in action? We’ve got you covered!

VERDICT
88%

A Plague Tale: Requiem puts the De Rune siblings in the middle of a new adventure that takes them to gorgeous locations, lets them meet fascinating characters, but most of all: has them facing a bazillion rats!

It’s one of the best-looking and sounding games ever, evoking very real feelings, despite some weird scripted moments, and has an ending I’d nominate for most note-worthy of the year.

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